Michelle Does Marilyn
With a Little Cinema Magic, Williams Brings Monroe to Life
What's it like being Marilyn Monroe? For one thing, according to Michelle Williams, "You get a lot of attention." But Williams, who plays the superstar in My Week With Marilyn, knows as well as anyone that there's more to the American icon than meets the eye. "The breathy quality that she had in her voice was a device that she used to cover up a stutter," the actress explained last night at the Hudson Hotel's Private Park, at a Dior-sponsored party preceding a screening of the movie at the New York Film Festival.
Set in mid-fifties England and based on the true story of a production assistant's extended encounter with Monroe during the filming of Sir Laurence Olivier's The Prince and the Showgirl, the movie depicts the starlet's doomed bid to be taken seriously. There are three Marilyns in the film—the public one, the private one, and the character Monroe plays for Olivier's cameras—and Williams' layered personification has already earned some Oscar buzz. (Her pedigreed co-stars, including Kenneth Branagh and Judi Dench, and the campaigning clout of executive producer Harvey Weinstein certainly won't hurt her cause.)
"Watching Michelle having to dip in and out of all these different facets was really wonderful," said Eddie Redmayne, who plays Monroe's starstruck young companion. Director Simon Curtis acknowledged that his star's performance transcends the fact that Williams isn't necessarily a dead ringer for Monroe. "It's like when you see Helen Mirren play the Queen. They don't look anything alike in the same room, but somehow if the acting is good enough you begin to believe it," he said. On camera, Williams even seems at points to possess Monroe's full figure. "There's some cinema magic in all of that," Curtis added, and he wasn't talking about CGI.